Well, the year of 2018 has arrived. Illinois will be having a year long celebration in 2018, celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of the admission of Illinois as a state of the United States. This celebration will culminate on December 3, 2018, the anniversary date.
In 1968, an Illinois Sesquicentennial Commission was appointed. Among those on this Commission that I knew were Paul Simon who was a State Senator at the time; Virginia Marmaduke from Perry County; Paul Powell, who was a politician from Johnson County; and the Chairman of the Commission, who was Ralph Newman.
The ones of us who did the work on celebrating the history of Illinois, as I mentioned in my previous article was the Sesquicentennial Committee. This Committee included Southern Illinois author John Allen; Katie Fine of Randolph County; Mary Burtschi of Vandalia, Fayette County; former Governor William “Bill” Stratton; and myself. We held meetings at various historical sites in 1968 and performed the duties we had been assigned to do by Governor Otto Kerner.
So far, I have not heard of any bicentennial committee appointments only commission appointments for the Bicentennial Celebration. Harry Crisp, II, of Marion, Illinois is on the Bicentennial Commission.
The Centennial Commission of 1918 had authorized publications such as the book “Illinois in 1818” by Solon J. Buck which described what Illinois was like in 1818. This book was reprinted for the 1968 Sesquicentennial Celebration of 1968.
In 1818, Illinois had a population of only about 40,000 people, while today in 2018, the population is about 12.76 million, down from 12.84 million in the 2010 Federal Census.
In 1818, Southern Illinois was Illinois as far as the part that was settled by settlers who had come from other parts of the United States or from Europe to settle on the land here. Most of the northern two-thirds of what is now the State of Illinois was occupied by Sauk, Winnebago, Potawatomi, Ottawa, Chippewa, and Kickapoo Indian tribes. The Shawnee and Kaskaskia Indian tribes had already left Southern Illinois.
White County in 1818 included what is now White, Hamilton, and a strip nine miles wide of the southern part of Jefferson County. Its area was approximately 1150 square miles and its population was 3,832 according to the Census of 1818. Eleven free people of color and 57 servants or slaves were noted in this census.
Although all the land in White County was open for purchase, only a small proportion of it had been taken up, and settlers were few and far between in the western section. Though the Goshen Trail ran diagonally from southeast to northwest across what is now Hamilton County and was a good drawing card for settlers, it is doubtful if there were 100 families in that area. The principal settlements were in the area where McLeansboro is now located and to the area just west of it, but there were isolated settlements scattered throughout the area.
At least three-fourths of the inhabitants within the 1818 boundaries of White County lived within the territory of the present White County and here the region of densest settlement was along the Wabash River on both sides of the Little Wabash River, and between the two rivers. In the southwestern part of present day White County there were a considerable number of settlers, but the northwestern part of the county was practically unoccupied. On the Little Wabash, near the center of the present White County, was located the county seat, Carmi, the second largest town on the eastern side of this part of Illinois.
Carmi was, however, still a small place in 1818, since in 1815, there had been nothing on the site but a mill. Carmi was laid out in 1816, and, in that year, a store was started and a ferry established. The sale of lots was advertised in July 15, 1816, and, in December, the county officials were advertising for bids for the construction of a two-story brick courthouse – 30 by 36 feet in size. By 1818, two doctors had located in Carmi.
The source of most of this information about White County in 1818 was gleaned from the book “Illinois in 1818.” More about Illinois in 1818 and the Illinois Bicentennial will be in future articles this year.
Do you have a family story about how and when your ancestors first arrived in Illinois? If you would contact me, I would like to tell “your story” in one of these articles. We have many families in this area who arrived in White County before the 1860s.
If anyone has any information or pictures to share with the readers of these articles, please contact me at Edward Oliver, P O Box 456, Norris City, IL 62869, telephone 618-378-3176, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.